Recently, alongside all my scholarly reading, I’ve been indulging in a bit of what I’ll call “brain candy” reading. Fun, fast fiction reads that I can sit back, eat some popcorn, and just devour for the sheer pleasure and entertainment of reading. Some of that has been at the behest of friends who are authors (being a beta reader is a LOT of fun, you get to watch good stories turn into published novels), but the rest of the time I’ve been making my way through Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles – so far I’ve read Hounded and most of Hexed.
They’re especially fun, as Urban Fantasy goes, since Druids don’t usually feature much in those stories, and this one is focused on one Druid (Atticus O’Sullivan, but that’s not his real name). Specifically, he’s the last Druid still remaining, and the books chronicle his many adventures and misadventures with creatures, witches, demons, faeries, Gods and Goddesses, a talking dog who wants to be Ghengis Khan, and his team of lawyers (who happen to be a vampire and a werewolf). It’s silly, snort-with-laughter fun, but at the same time there have been a few poignant moments that really resonated with me as a “modern day” Druid.
First, his connection with the Earth is amazingly powerful. It’s where he gets all his magic and power, and he clearly returns that favor with love and care. I am inspired by him to be a better herbalist, and spend more time with my connection to the Earth Mother.
Second, his relationship with his Gods and Goddesses is based on the same rules of hospitality and worship. He keeps the old ways, and they keep him. Hearne’s portrayals of the Tuatha de Dannan are really something else, and especially the Goddesses are powerful forces of action and change and movement in the novels. They’re also clearly acting out of their own interests, and are not above pulling a fast one on their favorite Druid if they think they can get something out of him.
But third, I was reading last night, and he said something offhand while trying to get away with yet another one of his shenanigans that really stuck with me. I don’t have the full quote, but when his lawyer was arguing about his ability to climb up into his neighbor’s tree, he turned to him to reassure him with the words “That tree loves me.” He then went on to talk about how he spends time tending and talking to it, and making sure it’s well cared for and loved back, and how it would keep him safe.
And I thought to myself… do the trees in my yard love me? Have I really taken the time to get to know those trees on the level that they’d say they cared for me, as much as I profess to care for them?
Of course, I hold no illusions that I’ll ever be an Iron Druid out of a fantasy novel, weilding powerful Irish magic and living for thousands of years, battling witches and evil fae and demons and all that. (Though, admittedly, I’d sign up for the 12 years of memorization and the ritual tattoos for the privelege, but that’s what wish fulfillment fantasy novels are all about, right?)
But I have trees I can care for, and a garden full of vegetables and herbs, and a piece of land to tend.
And maybe, just maybe, my trees will love me back.